Your 8-year-old now
Increasingly at this age, boys prefer to play with boys and girls with girls. Social scientists aren't sure exactly why, but it partly has to do with a shared play style (boys often prefer more active, competitive play and girls more sedentary and cooperative play, although these are only broad generalizations).
Though playing with kids of the same sex is a clear trend at this age, it's certainly not true for every child. Next-door neighbors and teammates of opposite sexes may continue wanting to play together out of convenience and habit – or simply because they enjoy each other's company.
But a child who prefers a playmate of the other sex may start to have trouble when all her peers are involved in same-sex activities and may pressure her to do the same. Two friends may find themselves teased as "boyfriend and girlfriend," for example, when there's nothing at all romantic about their kinship. Or boys may be labeled "sissies" and girls "tomboys."
This apparent cruelty toward those who fail to conform stems from a growing desire kids this age have to "fit in." It tends to escalate near ages 9 to 11, the cusp of puberty.
Encourage your child not to give up a good friend just because other children disapprove. Thankfully, many children this age are still oblivious to sex segregation. It's an issue that can be more or less apparent depending on your particular community and social circle.
Your life now
Lighten your cooking load with a dinner club. If you live in a neighborhood with plenty of families, see if some are interested in organizing a supper co-op. Members take turns cooking large quantities and delivering the meals around the neighborhood.
Although your designated day will require a lot more chopping and simmering, overall this plan reduces your weekly food-prep responsibility, guarantees hot meals most nights of the week, and should make dinner more interesting.
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